RS Components reaffirms its continuing commitment to DesignSpark PCB

Version 6.0 integrates three new features requested by the DesignSpark user community, saving even more design time for engineers.

March 24, 2014

Version 6.0 integrates three new features requested by the DesignSpark user community, saving even more design time for engineers

RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the world’s leading high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products, has unveiled the latest release of DesignSpark PCB, the company’s award-winning professional software for schematic capture and PCB layout. DesignSpark PCB Version 6.0 adds three of the most popular requests for new features, thereby further enhancing ease-of-use for designers: Simplified export to DesignSpark Mechanical, Cross Probe and Custom Shortcuts, making the powerful tool even easier to use and enhancing the ability to speed user navigation around designs.

Due to its advanced project design and production capabilities, DesignSpark PCB has gained extraordinarily high adoption with more than 200,000 users globally and has become the ‘open-source hardware’ tool of choice for sharing and collaborating on designs and projects. In this sixth edition, DesignSpark PCB builds upon the previous version of the tool, which was announced in April 2013 and added further functionality including Online Design Rule Checking (Real-Time DRC) and design support for buses.

DesignSpark Mechanical IDF Export

With the launch of DesignSpark Mechanical in September 2013 DesignSpark PCB users gained the ability to design the mechanical elements of their products with a free-of-charge tool from the DesignSpark suite. This requires designs to be exported from DesignSpark PCB using the industry standard IDF format. The enthusiastic adoption of DesignSpark Mechanical was followed by feedback from users indicating the need for closer integration between the tools. In response to these requests, DesignSpark PCB Version 6.0 comes with simplified IDF export dedicated to DesignSpark Mechanical. This new interface makes the design transfer process easier and with various parameters pre-configured, enables designs to be exported more quickly while minimising the risk of user errors.

Cross Probe

The Cross Probe (X-probe) functionality in Version 6.0 further speeds up the design process by allowing instant referencing between the schematic and the PCB-design views within the software. Usually it is relatively straightforward to identify a component in PCB view, but not necessarily so easy to find its corresponding symbol within the schematic – unless the system is extremely well known and understood by a user. Cross Probe allows the user to simply click on the component in either view, which will then immediately take them to the component in the counterpart view. The function works either way from PCB to schematic or vice versa.

Custom Shortcuts

The new Custom Shortcuts functionality in Version 6.0 allows more customisation flexibility within the user interface. Users can now configure the tool, defining their own shortcuts and hot keys thus making it much easier and quicker to use, especially if they are used to specific shortcut operations when using other PCB design tools.

“RS continues to remove the barriers of cost and complexity in electronics design and the release of Version 6.0 is a further confirmation of our commitment to support the growth of the DesignSpark PCB user base and deliver the best possible open-source hardware design experience to electronics engineers,” said Mark Cundle, Head of Technical Marketing at RS. “Feedback from the DesignSpark community has been instrumental in the evolution of DesignSpark PCB and this new version of the software fully embodies this approach, allowing engineers to innovate with free yet high-performance design tools.”

The DesignSpark PCB Timeline:

  • July 2010 – First Release of DesignSpark PCB.
  • March 2011 – Addition of 3D visualisation of PCB layouts and increased library management functionality.
  • November 2011 – Addition of simulation interface, design calculators and component-grouping functionality.
  • October 2012 – Enhanced library manager with access to 80,000 part numbers in ModelSource component library, and addition of Bill-Of-Materials quote and PCB manufacturing quote functionality.
  • April 2013 – Integration of online Design Rule Check and buses.
  • January 2014 – Simplified export to DesignSpark Mechanical, addition of Cross Probe and Custom Shortcuts functionalities.